This morning my daughter was having a fight with her brother.
“Mommy”, she whined, “He called me a baby”.
“No he didn’t”, I said, very aware that we were already late for school and that such an accusation would take at least five minutes of careful negotiations and intricate semantic compromises, to resolve.
“Yes he did”, she answered. “I saw. His lips were wobbling, noise was coming out, which means he was talking.”
This somewhat surprising observation hit a sore spot. Daughter had unwittingly described most of my conversations of late – wobbly lips and random sounds. I just can’t seem to think anymore. For example I was having a rip roaring fight with (Almost) Ideal Man the other day (yes, I know that this seems to be a commonly re-occuring theme, but I am embracing the Man-Hating Bitch that lives deep inside the People Pleasing Doormat, and she is a whole lot more fun). I won’t disclose the reason for our altercation as that will make me sound selfish and probably a bit unethical, but suffice to say the plot could have been pulled straight from day-time television. In fact, given the way that I am functioning at the moment it probably was.
During this particular round of heated exchange I had reason to say “Don’t you understand, I am fighting with you because I am angry with you, not because I don’t care about you”. Revolting, I know, but it obviously seemed like a good, if somewhat dramatic, thing to say at the time. I did have an awkward feeling that someone else’s words were coming out of my mouth, like a ventriloquist act, but the conversational slaughter had moved on, and before I knew it I had slammed the phone down and unfriended him on Facebook.
Later that evening I was watching reruns of Friends. Lately, in an attempt to numb myself I have, like a pre-menstrual woman falling on a stash of five year old cooking chocolate found at the back of the cupboard, been gorging myself on old episodes of my favourite sitcom. I’m never sure which episode I am up to, so I often find myself watching one that I had seen the night before, coming to the realisation long after I am willing to expend the energy in changing episodes. That night was no different, and I found myself watching Rachel and Ross reconciling after the “we weren’t on a break” debacle for the second time in as many days.
And then I heard it.
Ross: You were the one who ended it. Remember?
Rachel: Yes, because I was mad at you. Not because I didn’t love you.
And in that moment I realised that I had, in one final stand against post-divorce burn-out, outsourced my thinking. And I was filled with a sense of relief. I knew that whatever I was saying to other people had been quality checked by the committee that wrote Friends. And people liked it, right? I vowed to pay much closer attention to the dialogue, and even consciously memorise a line or two. And if anyone gets offended at the quality of social interaction with me, they are more than welcome to drop off “Big Bang Theory”, or “How I Met your Mother”. Given my current situation you will forgive me if I give “Two and a Half Men”a miss though – I’m not sure I would find anything useful there.
Clearly I am watching the right kind of television, because Almost Ideal Man and I made friends after a long and drawn out drama, and have been reunited on Facebook in a gesture that could have been used in any sitcom of note. And if he watches enough sitcoms himself, he might get to drop the ‘Almost ‘ again – particularly if the main character buys lots of expensive gifts for his dearest friends (See the one where Joey buys the big screen TV and leather arm chairs for Chandler).